Small boutiques find a home downtown
FAIRFIELD — When the Fairfield Store shut its doors some 20 years ago, many in town wondered what would happen to the downtown shopping scene.
A quick walk down the Post Road provides the answer to that, as do some of the shop owners.
“It’s thriving,” said Jackie Fucigna, owner of No. 299 on Unquowa Road. She opened her shop two years ago. The store sells home decor and gifts with a “vintage vibe,” Fucigna said.
Fucigna said she decided to open her store downtown because she lives in Fairfield, “and I really like our town, and this is a way to be a part of it in an even deeper way.”
She moved to town 10 years ago and has watched the downtown transform. “It went from zero to 60,” Fucigna said. “The restaurants, the bars, the stores. ... I think people are enjoying the vibe, I love it.”
Sharon Risley is the manager at Capri, a women’s boutique that opened almost 20 years, not long after Fairfield Store closed.
Fairfield Sidewalk Sale & Street Fair
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine
Over 75 vendors are expected to participate along the Post Road from Heritage Square to the Promenade at the Brick Walk
Activities on Sherman Green include an inflatable bounce house, face painting, balloon artistry and a visit from Storm, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers mascot.
Members of the Fairfield Teen Theatre Co. will provide a preview of their upcoming performance of “Les Miserables” at 11 a.m.
Live musical entertainment will take place a multiple venues from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Participating restaurants will offer lunch specials
For more information, visit www.fairfieldct.org/sidewalksale
“We’ve been thriving ever since,” Risley said, as they prepared for Saturday’s Sidewalk Sale & Street Fair.
“Since our opening, we’ve evolved into the Fairfield customer,” she said, carrying clothing and accessories. “We have such a loyal following.”
Risely said the mix of boutiques and chain stores works well. “We co-exist,” she said. “It’s all about cooperation, not competition.”
There probably is no better champion of downtown than Chris O’Shea, owner of Driftwood Farmhouse, a “mostly home store, but with a spattering of gifts and jewelry.”
“I have a passion for downtown Fairfield,” the Manhattan transplant said. “I believe in this town, and we need people to shop in our town.”
O’Shea opened her shop just two months ago, but has jumped feet first into the downtown business world. It was O’Shea who started the Art Walk. “I do so many events to try and bring people to come down and shop,” she said.
She said not only is it amazing that so many new, independent shops are opening downtown, but the majority are owned by women.
Across the street at Penfield Collective, owner Vanessa Lewis marked her fourth week in business. Her clothing store, she said, is a “luxury lifestyle boutique,” a curated collection of new and existing designers from all over the globe.
“We live in this town and love it,” Lewis said. “We love the other businesses in town, the people, the supportive vibe.”
Lewis said they wouldn’t have opened their first store in any other place.